Fooled by the Gibeonites!

Series: Joshua, by rosie moore

“The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbours, living near them” (Joshua 9:14-16).

The people of Gibeon told a crafty lie and even produced fake evidence to back up their claims: dusty sandals, mouldy bread, old cracked wineskins and worn out clothes were all part of an elaborate hoax to convince Joshua that they lived in a distant country. And Joshua and the Israelites leaders took the bait, hook, line and sinker. They were conned by a smelly rucksack of fake possessions!

But unlike the kings of the other Canaanite tribes who joined together to make war against Joshua and Israel, the people of Gibeon wanted to be allies of the Israelites. They knew that the Lord had clearly told Israel to make treaties with people outside the land of Canaan, but not inside, “otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshipping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God” (Deut 20:10-18Num 33:51-52). And so, the Gibeonites’ ruse to enter a peace treaty with Israel was in fact a desperate attempt to save their own lives.

Read Joshua 9 for the full story.

The crafty lie.

In reality, Gibeon was only 24 kilometers from Jericho, part of the land that God expressly told his people to conquer and destroy.

Their elaborate lie was couched in false humility and flattery: We are your servants Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the JordanSihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. 11 And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, We are your servants; make a treaty with us.”(Josh 9:7-11).

The mighty men of Gibeon used all the right words and adopted a subservient posture. “We are your servants” is their repeated refrain. They purposefully didn’t mention the conquests of Jericho and Ai, possibly because the Israelites had nothing to do with these victories.

Joshua’s bad judgment.

But instead of taking counsel from the Lord, Joshua and his counsellors trusted their natural instincts. They were fooled by the Gibeonites’ facade and fake evidence. And so, instead of annihilating Gibeon, as God had commanded, they made a peace pact with the Gibeonites, to let them live.  It was ratified with an oath, and three days later, the truth came out. Israel’s leaders realised that they’d been conned by a nation of Canaanites through poor judgment.

Have you ever felt the heat rise in your face when you suddenly realise you’ve been conned? I have! Just the other day, late on a Friday afternoon, I nearly fell for a scam when a guy phoned me, claiming to be from the bank’s fraud department. He asked me a whole bunch of security questions. He told me the last four digits on my credit card and he knew my address. He caught me completely off guard.

He said that he suspected three fraudulent transactions on my card—large amounts which were quite obviously not mine. I was feeling panicky when he asked me if I wanted him to reverse them. “Of course I want you to reverse them! Please do it for me now!”

Then the guy asked me to check my phone for an OTP authorising him to reverse the charges. I saw the OTP coming through and almost started reading the numbers out to him… nice and clearly. That’s when I looked at my husband’s shocked face and smelled a rat! I was on the brink of giving the scamster permission to raid our account! Like me, Joshua must have felt a complete fool for believing the Gibeonites. They were not who they pretended to be.

Verse 14 makes it clear that the leaders’ poor judgment and rash promise were because they failed to ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment in an important decision. Believing they could trust their common sense and impressions, God’s people were led into deception. They walked by sight and not by faith. And, as a result of their self-reliance, Israel was stuck with the Gibeonites as their allies forever.

They did not ask counsel from the Lord.

How many times have we done the same as Christians? Self- reliance and independence are perpetual temptations, especially when decisions seem self-evident and obvious.  The Lord says that we should pray about everything we do or decide—big and small, because wisdom is a communicable attribute of God.

As Job affirmed many centuries ago,

“To God belong wisdom and power;

Counsel and understanding are his” (Job 12:13).

Because we are always dependent on His counsel, we should ask God for wisdom and discernment for the practical decisions of life, as there’s a vast difference between our limited human understanding and God’s heavenly wisdom (James 1:5-7).

James says that a double-minded person is someone torn between trusting God and wanting to trust in our own solutions to our problems. If you have ever watched the ocean, you will know how restless and unstable the rolling waves are. They are at the mercy of wind, gravity and tide. Likewise, without God’s true wisdom and righteous discernment, we will be unstable in all our ways. That’s why we need to “commit our way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act” (Ps 37:5).

Like David, it’s good for believers to pray for God’s counsel and wisdom every day:

“Guide me in your truth and teach me,

For you are God my Saviour,

And my hope is in you all day long.” (Ps 25:5)

 “Since you are my rock and my fortress,

For the sake of your name lead and guide me” (Ps 31:3).

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Thankfully, after their costly mistake, Joshua and the Israelite leaders did not pile sin upon sin by breaking their oath to the Gibeonites.  They knew that they needed to keep their promise, even a bad promise which caused the congregation to murmur against the leaders.

But all the leaders said to all the congregation, We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.  And the leaders said to them, Let them live.” (Joshua 9:18-21).

In the light of public pressure, it is easy to justify sin in order to rectify a previous sin or foolish act, but it is a mark of godliness to do the right thing, even when it is costly. Psalm 15:4 reminds us that God honours those who fear the Lord by keeping their promises when it hurts: “He honours those who fear the Lord; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change.”

Many years later, King Saul broke this vow to the Gibeonites and his crime resulted in a three-year famine for Israel in David’s time (2 Sam 21:1). Once again, we are reminded that our sins have serious and far-reaching consequences.

Good news for the Gibeonites.

But this story isn’t just about seeking God’s wisdom and not making rash promises. It also involves good news for the treacherous Gibeonites and displays the gracious providence of God. Actually, it gives us a sneak preview of the gospel and God’s intention to bless all the families and nations on earth through Israel, as He promised Abraham (Gen 12:3). The Gibeonites received mercy rather than the judgment they deserved.

Joshua unwittingly entered into a covenant of peace with a whole nation of Canaanites– God’s enemies– who would essentially be incorporated into Israel and become servants of the Lord, intimately involved in the nation’s worship.

Interestingly, after Joshua 9, the Gibeonites became a target of attack because of their alliance with Israel (Josh 10:4). They became servants in God’s tabernacle and Gibeon became a priestly city, where the Ark of the Covenant often stayed (1 Chron 16:39-4021:29). At least one of David’s mighty men was a Gibeonite (1 Chron 12:4) and a prophet called Hananiah came from the city of Gibeon (Jer 28:1). The Gibeonites would later help Israel in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem, under Nehemiah (Neh 3:77:25).

And so, God used Joshua’s rash vow to bless the Gibeonites, and He used the Gibeonites to bless Israel! This is God’s mysterious providence at work in history, even through foolishness and sin, even through Joshua’s curse which made the Gibeonites “woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly” (Josh 9:21).

This story reminded me of Joseph’s response to his brothers who had dealt treacherously with him, and were now throwing themselves at his mercy:

His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, Behold, we are your servants. But Joseph said to them, Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones (Gen 50:18-21).

Behold, we are in your hand.

Similarly, when Joshua confronts the Gibeonites with their deception, they throw themselves at Joshua’s mercy:

Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before youso we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it (Josh 9:23-25).

As with Rahab, I’m not sure how much the Gibeonites knew about the Lord. But they did show faith by throwing themselves at the mercy of Joshua, God’s servant, whose name means “God saves”. They had absolute certainty that God was giving the land to Israel and responded with appropriate fear before God’s people, convinced that judgment was coming.

While they were still God’s enemies, the Gibeonites were precocious in seeking refuge among the people of Israel. They preferred to be on God’s side rather than align with the other Canaanite kings. And in his great mercy, God honoured their request. Doesn’t Jesus similarly honour the precocious faith of a Canaanite woman in the first century who sought freedom for her demon-possessed child? (Mark 7:24-29)

I wonder if the response of the Gibeonites to Joshua isn’t a model of how sinners are invited to confess our own treachery; surrender to Christ, and ask Him for a peace treaty? After all, this is the only way that God’s enemies become His servants and family.

And hasn’t Jesus ratified an eternal covenant with all those who take refuge in Him through his death and resurrection? (Heb 13:20-21Matt 26:28) This covenant is summed up in the wonderful refrain repeated throughout Scripture:

“I will be your God and you will be my people, and I will dwell among you” (Ex 6:7Ezek 11:202 Cor 6:16Rev 21:3).

What an undeserved, oath-bound promise that every sinner can cling to, if we have thrown ourselves at Christ’s mercy! Perhaps one day we shall meet some of the mighty men of Gibeon, as we worship the Lamb together around the heavenly throne (Rev 5:9-10).


Father, you have qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints. You have rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of your beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. May we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In you, Jesus, are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. By your grace, we long to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.

As for me and my house…

Series: Joshua, by Rosie Moore. (Final part)

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14:15).

It’s common to find the final excerpt of Joshua’s inspirational words printed on coffee mugs. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” I confess that I have one of those mugs in my own kitchen. But if we take the time to read Joshua 23 and 24 in its entirety, we get the full benefit of Joshua’s wonderful message.

Joshua’s final words to Israel remind me of Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:13-38, ending with these words, “What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again.” (Acts 20:38).

Likewise, I doubt that there was a dry eye among the Israelites as they listened to Joshua’s final words and renewed the covenant with the Lord at Schechem. It was the same spot where Abraham had first camped when he arrived in Canaan 500 years before, the place where God had appeared to him, reminding him of the promises He had made to bless him, his descendants, and all the nations on earth.

Joshua’s farewell reminds us that spiritual leaders will come and go, but God’s purpose and his kingdom go on. Each new generation, each era of Church history, each family and each individual must face the same choice:

Choose this day whom you will serve. Will it be the one true God? Or the gods of tradition and upbringing? Or the gods of the surrounding culture—the spirit of the age? Either God is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. You have only one life, so choose wisely. Serve the LORD!

  1. A Rehearsal of Grace.

First Joshua catalogues Israel’s history, speaking the very words of God. Lest the Israelites think that they live in the Promised Land by their own brilliant effort, God gives them an accurate history lesson (Josh 24:1-14).  He rehearses centuries of God’s sovereign grace that brought them to Canaan. Seventeen times, God says “I” did it!

As Joshua’s name suggests, “Yahweh saves!”

By grace, God called their forefather Abraham. God doesn’t airbrush the nation’s Patriarch. Abraham was an idol worshipper who served the Babylonian gods of sophistication and intellect. Abraham did not choose God, nor was he a righteous man who was worthy of God’s favour. No, it was by God’s grace that Israel became a great nation.

The history lesson continues into Exodus and Numbers. It was by Yahweh’s grace that the Israelites were rescued from slavery in Egypt and delivered at the Red Sea (Josh 24:5-7). It was the Lord’s grace that provided for the Israelites in the wilderness and brought them protection and victory over all their enemies (Josh 24:8-10). Moses and Joshua were just instruments of the Lord’s grace.

And, it is only by God’s grace that they now enjoy the goodness of the Promised Land (Josh 24:8-12).

“So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant” (Joshua 24:13).

If God rehearses history in this way, surely it’s important for us to record history accurately too, instead of re-writing the past to suit the thoughts, ideas and values of our own times? The Christian faith is based in history, not mythology.

From start to finish, Israel’s chequered history and God’s grace are woven together. And so it is with us. It is an awesome wonder that God saved us by his grace! It is totally unmerited, unexpected and unsolicited. God owes us nothing less than judgment for our sin.

In light of His amazing grace, there is only one reasonable response: Total devotion to Him.

  1. A reasonable response.

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness”  (Joshua 24:14).

A believer’s life is a ‘reasonable’ response to God’s grace to us. Grace is why we serve, evangelise, study, pray, work, teach, share, encourage, disciple and love each other. Holy service to Christ is a reasonable response to God’s grace to us, not the means by which we gain His favour. That’s why God rehearsed his grace to his people for twelve verses before Joshua draws the logical conclusion of verse 14.

It makes me think of Paul’s “therefore” in Romans 12:1-2, which appears after eleven chapters of Paul proclaiming the riches of God’s grace:

“I plead with you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”.

But what about Joshua’s instruction to “fear the Lord?” We don’t hear much about fearing the Lord these days, but it is an appropriate fear.

  1. An appropriate fear.

Christians often shy away from talking about the “fear of the Lord,” as if it’s an outdated idea that will somehow confuse people. After all, aren’t we a society plagued by fears and anxiety? Shouldn’t we become fearless instead?

But at many times throughout Scripture, we are told that God’s mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation (Luke 1:50; Deut 5:29). Fear of the Lord is linked to a holy life.

Here are just a handful of Scriptures which commend an appropriate fear of the Lord: Deut 8:6; Deut 10:12; Heb 11:7; Ps 34:11; Job 28:28;  Mal 3:5; Prov 1:72; 2 Cor 7:1; 2 Cor 5:11. Moreover, Jesus Himself commands us to fear God who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).

In fact, it is fear of people and circumstances that produces chaos and confusion in the mind, not fear of the Lord. Sinful fear creates irrational thinking and cripples us. It leads us to compromise, to be fainthearted or hypocritical, to give in to despair. As Solomon explains, “The fear of man brings a snare” (Prov 29:25).

Sinful fear can destroy our relationships and neutralize our Christian witness. Sometimes we don’t do what’s right because we are afraid. Sometimes we are controlled by the opinion of others, or we become controlling of others, because we are driven by the wrong kind of fear.

But God rehearsed Israel’s history to remind them of who He was, so that His people would fear Him rather than the surrounding nations and their false gods. As an old Puritan explained: “The fear of God will swallow up the fear of man. A reverential awe and dread of God will extinguish the slavish fear of the creature” (Flavel, The Works of John Flavel, 244). The Puritans have much to teach Christians today on how to serve Christ in the family, the church, and the world.

Thinking about who God is, what He has done and still does, produces great courage in a believer. It’s the antidote to fearing all the wrong kinds of things. The Lord still calls Christians today to fear Him, especially when our faith is tested in the furnace of real life.

Peter encourages believers not to fear those who persecute and intimidate them, but rather to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Joshua was a strong and courageous leader, not because he was fearless, but because he feared the Lord. He feared God when he chose to reject the golden calf and fight the Amalekites, instead of following the majority. He feared the Lord when he believed God’s promise about the Promised Land, against the opinion of the majority. And he feared the Lord when he chose to follow the Captain of the Lord’s army into battle. Joshua urges us first to fear God, then to make a decisive choice.

  1. A decisive choice.

God has created humanity with a capacity to choose. We have volition. And the Bible teaches that we can choose God or not choose God; choose Christ or reject Him; choose good or choose evil; choose to obey or disobey. And we live with the consequences of our choices.

In 2020, just before Covid hit, we were on holiday with extended family at the coast. One night during family devotions, our children asked their grandpa to give them the most important advice he could think of. I’ll never forget the rapt attention of the children when my father landed on Joshua 24:15, drawing a line in the sand that would come to all of them. He explained that the line in the sand is the point beyond which you will not go, or the point of no return as a Christian. It is the point at which you are faced with a choice and must take decisive action either way.

Giving examples from his own life, my father explained that at some point the children’s faith would be tested. They would need to choose to go the way of the cross and the Bible, or go the way of the world.

In fact, since that pivotal evening, all our children and many of their cousins have spoken of the many difficult choices that have come to them in the last two years. For some, their choice to serve the Lord has cost them dearly, but they recognized the line in the sand when they saw it.

Joshua spells out Israel’s choices to them (Josh 24:14-15): Either they will choose the Lord and serve him with wholehearted devotion. Or they will choose to serve the gods of heritage and tradition. Or they will serve the Egyptian gods of power. Or the Babylonian gods of enlightenment, education, philosophy, and science. Or the Canaanite gods of lust and child sacrifice. Or the gods of contemporary culture and the spirit of the age (the surrounding nations).

As spiritual head of his household, Joshua didn’t dabble in false gods. He took a firm stand for the Lord, personally and on behalf of his household. But each Israelite would each need to choose for himself or herself—willingly and decisively.

Joshua asks us today, “Which god will you serve? Whom will you fear?” This is an inescapable choice for each of us, because we are born worshippers. There are immense consequences attached to our choices, both for the present life and for future generations.

Similarly, decades earlier Moses had summoned the people of Israel to make a choice, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life, that both you and your seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

And five centuries after Joshua, Elijah would go before the people and say, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing (1 Kings 18:21).

And a millennium after Joshua, Jesus put the same choice to people, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and money (Matt 6:24). If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

The world presents a morally neutral buffet of choices with no consequences. As for Christians, the choice is not always easy but it is clear. This is our moment in history to choose:

  • Will we choose to follow Christ, or to chase the deceptive ideas and values that influence of our culture?
  • Will we put our resources at Christ’s disposal, including our time, money, work, spiritual gifts and opportunities? Or will we choose to use them for ourselves?
  • Will we lead our households to serve the Lord with sincere and faithful hearts? Or will we abdicate our parental responsibilities to others?
  • Will we keep the Lord and His Kingdom number one? Or will we cling to our own kingdom and power?

The choice to serve the Lord exclusively is never an easy one, but it’s a reasonable response to his grace.

May we lay down our own commitment stone just as Joshua did (Josh 24:27), saying:

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”


Lord, today we are reminded that although you are incredibly gracious with us, you are also a holy, jealous God who tolerates no rivals. As we ponder the story of your amazing grace, help us choose life over death, your blessings over curses. Help us to respond to your grace by forsaking everything that displeases you in our lives. Show us what we are holding onto that keeps us from serving you wholeheartedly. Empower us to deal with particular sins in our lives which we have been overlooking for too long. Thank you that our inheritance is the same as Joshua’s, and the same inheritance as the thousands of God-fearing men and women who have faithfully served you in the past. Thank you for the Promised Land which our Lord Jesus is keeping for us in heaven. We look forward to the day of final conquest. Amen.

Achan’s secret sin

Series: Joshua Part 3, by Rosie Moore

“You have set our iniquities before You, Lord,

Our secret sins in the light of Your Presence” (Ps 90:8)

Joshua chapter 7 surely stands as one of the most shocking chapters in the Bible, a real dampener after the  conquest of Jericho. Israel’s defeat at Ai showed that what mattered was not the power of the opponent, but the help of God. Without God’s help, the people of Israel had good reason to be afraid of even the weakest opposition, because if God didn’t fight for them, they could expect nothing but defeat. As Christ’s Church today, we should remember that all the power and programs in the world mean nothing if God withdraws his blessing and guidance from us.

Please read Joshua 7 prayerfully.

Achan’s secret sin.

But Achan’s sin might seem trivial to us. After all, he only took a beautiful robe from Babylonia, some shekels of silver and a wedge of gold from the plunder of Jericho (Josh 7:21). No one outside Achan’s family would have known about the hidden loot or been hurt by it. Surely it was a well-deserved reward for a soldier who had long awaited a slither of his own land? Hadn’t he fought hard for the welfare of his family and nation? Given the wealth of Jericho, Achan’s plunder was petty cash.

But God saw what Achan did, and there is no trivial or secret sin in God’s eyes. The Lord said, “Israel has sinned…they…they…they also”, not only one man. It is staggering to think that the whole nation was found guilty, and thirty-six men were dead, all for the sin of one man. God’s mercy made Israel fail in battle so that He could deal with a particular area of sin in the camp.

Sometimes we forget that all disobedience (even partial obedience) is rebellion against God and deserving of death. Achan’s story is a sobering reminder of God’s holiness and the serious, far-reaching consequences of our sin—even secret sins that nobody else can see.

But Achan’s story also points us to the desperate need for Christ’s atonement for the cleansing of our sin, for without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin. When we realise that we deserve no better than Achan, we begin to see the scandalous gift of Christ’s atonement and our urgent need, as his people, to “crucify the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). The power and victory of Christ’s resurrection are ours as we die to our flesh with Him every day.

Two bookends.

Two verses at the beginning and end of chapter 7 bookmark the story of Achan, who deliberately disobeyed God’s command not to take any of the devoted or banned or ‘accursed’ plunder from the battle of Jericho. One man stole from God, but Achan’s sin had far-reaching consequences for himself, his family and the whole nation of Israel. God’s anger burned against Israel. But when his sin was atoned for, the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Here are the two bookends:

But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lords anger burned against Israel (Joshua 7:1)…

“Then all Israel stoned him  (Achan), and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor ever since (Joshua 7:25-26).

Once Israel had been cleansed from Achan’s sin, Joshua prepared to fight against Ai again—this time to win.

The purpose of the ban.

Lest we misinterpret this story, it’s important to understand that God was carrying out divine judgment against the wickedness of the Canaanites. This judgment, or ‘ban’ required that everything had to be destroyed (Josh 6:18Deut 12:2,313:12-18) because the Canaanites were a stronghold of rebellion against God. The wars fought against the Canaanites were not wars for Israel’s personal gain.

Because the Canaanite nations were deeply immersed in evil practices, witchcraft, idolatry, prostitution and child sacrifice, God ordered the destruction of all memories and associations with their culture. The reason for the ban was that the Lord detested these demonic and debasing worship and practices. He intended for his people to flourish in their new land.

The Lord wanted his holy people to have nothing to do with the ‘accursed things’, lest the wickedness of the Canaanites  spread like a cancer in Israel. But Rahab and her family were an exception to this total ban, because she had turned away from her sin and idolatrous culture, putting her faith in Israel’s God and standing with the spies. We saw this in the previous devotion, “Rahab, the faithful Prostitute.”

Moreover, the Lord had explicitly warned the people, through his servant Joshua, that there would be destruction and trouble for the whole nation if they did not keep away from the devoted things:

The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.18 But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. 19 All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury (Joshua 6:17-19).

It is clear that the gold, silver and precious metals were kept, not to enrich the people, but to adorn the temple of God and bring him glory. But Achan took what he wanted for himself.

Ripple effects of Achan’s sin.

The consequences of Achan’s sin are as terrifying as the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira at the birth of the New Testament Church (Acts 5). After the great victory of Jericho, thirty-six men died; Israel’s army melted in fear, and God threatened to withdraw his presence from Israel (Josh 7:5-12).

After his exposure, Achan and his entire family were destroyed (Josh 7:24-26) and cut off from God’s people. All these consequences were a direct result of one man’s disobedience. God judged the whole nation because of Achan’s secret sin.

Timeless lessons from Achan’s story.

What can we make of this sobering story today? Of course, 21st century Christians are not part of the Israelite army going to war with Ai. Nor are we called to stone people who disobey God. (If that were the case, we’d all be buried under a large pile of rocks by now!) We also know that our position before God is secured by the work of Jesus on our behalf, not our works or obedience.

But Achan’s story is in the Bible to teach, correct,  convict and train God’s people in righteousness (2 Tim 3:14-17). Here are four timeless truths that we can still apply two millennia after Christ’s atoning sacrifice:

  1. Christians still have a duty to obey a holy God.

Jesus reminds us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” In his final prayer for his disciples, Jesus asked, My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:1517).

I wonder how many of us hear the implicit warning in the Lord’s prayers? Even though our position before God is secure in Jesus, our fellowship with Him is hindered by our sin and disobedience (1 John 1:6). God’s word is His command to us and daily application of the Bible has a purifying effect on our minds and hearts. It guides us back to the path of truth.

Having recently witnessed the shocking implosion of some older Christians and the resulting devastation on their families, due to secret sins being practised over many years, I am convinced that we are sometimes blasé about the seeds of sin germinating in our hearts and too casual about the Bible’s instructions to live distinctive, pure and transparent lives before God and men.

Do we dwell on justification by faith, but ignore sanctification and the confession of specific sins? Are we carnal Christians? Achan’s story backs up Paul’s urgent appeal to Christians to mortify the flesh: “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die” (Rom 8:13). Achan’s story urges Christians to live in the light, because a casual attitude to sin will eventually lead to death.

  1. God still burns with holy anger towards sin.

Achan’s sin was exposed and publicly judged. This is a warning that God will punish all sin and rebellion, sooner or later. Because God still burns with holy anger towards sin, Paul warns that accepting and tolerating sin in the Church will infect the whole group:

“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor 5:6)

Just as Achan represents his whole family, and Adam represents fallen humanity in judgment, the good news is that Christ represents all who believe in his name. Because Jesus faced God’s fierce anger on the cross, God’s fierce anger is turned away from those who are in Christ. But God still burns with holy anger towards all sin.

So, God’s timeless command to his people is always to consecrate ourselves (Josh 7:13), to purge seeds of sin in our own hearts and have nothing to do with the evil practices that are tolerated, even celebrated in our culture. This may involve walking out of an immoral movie; seeking counsel from your pastor or small group leader; confessing your sins with a friend, or joining a group to overcome a besetting sin. With the Holy Spirit, we can overcome temptation and be trained in holiness (1 Cor 10:13).

And if God hates sin so much, shouldn’t we remember the regret that sin brings before we sin, not after, as Achan did? What are we doing to wage war against sin in our lives? Jesus instructs us to pluck out an eye or sever a limb if it causing us to stumble, for “it is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt 5:29-30Matt 18:8-9).

A theme throughout the book of Joshua is that partial obedience always leads to partial conquest or complete defeat. If Christ is not ruling every area of our lives, we are inviting bitter and far-reaching consequences not only for ourselves, but also our families, church, community and nation.

  1. The progression of hidden sin.

We too are tempted to stumble along the same path of sin that Achan took, namely—

“I saw it. I coveted it. I took it. I hid it” (Josh 7:21).

Achan’s confession is a clear picture of the four-part progression of sin. Sin does have its pleasures and usually involves hiding–at least initially. That’s why we need to live our lives with one face, one set of books, one kind of life that can be seen by anybody, anywhere. Hidden sin always has a special power over us, especially where money, sex, power and pride are involved.

Truly, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:10).

Achan’s story reminds us that God sees and knows everything– even secret sins committed in dark places or the dark recesses of our minds, invisible to human eyes. Secret sins like pride, pornography, deceit, theft, resentment, sexual abuse, greed, envy and corruption are regarded as commonplace in our culture, yet are deeply offensive to our holy God.

Like Achan, we are inclined to rationalise our cravings; to confess only once we’ve been exposed; to hide in the shadows; to care more for reputation than purity before God. Just like Adam and Achan, we think we can deceive God. But secret sin on earth is an open scandal before God.

Solomon urges us not to hide from God, as He is our only source of mercy.

“He who conceals is sins does not prosper,

But whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Prov 28:13).

4. The balm of confession.

As Christians, we dare not hide in the shadows if we want to experience the healing balm of God’s grace. Every sin that is dealt with can lead again to renewal and victory. Our only hope of restoration is Christ’s atonement on the cross.

When confronted by Joshua, Achan finally stopped hiding and came into the light:

Then Joshua said to Achan, My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honour him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.

20 Achan replied, It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath (Josh 7:20-21).

I don’t know whether Achan’s confession was borne out of true repentance, or mere regret that he’d been caught. But I do know for sure that there is only one way out of the destructive cycle of sin and death:

It is to confess, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord. This is what I have done….” It is to throw ourselves at God’s undeserved mercy;  to renounce our sins and trust in Christ to save us and change us.  God forgives, restores and blesses those who are honest about their sin.

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10)


Lord, you are the righteous God who searches hearts and secret thoughts (Ps 7:9). Your Lamp searches my spirit; it searches the inward depths of my being (Prov 20:27). Holy Spirit, search my heart today and reveal any unconfessed sin. Thank you for your forgiveness. Help me to put off my old self which is corrupted by evil desires, to be renewed in my mind, and help me to put on the new self which was created to be like You, in righteousness and true holiness (Eph 4:22-24). Amen.

Rahab the faithful prostitute

Series: Joshua

By Rosie Moore

“By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient” (Heb 11:31).

Have you ever considered someone impossible to save? Too far gone in their sin? Beyond redemption?

Yet, who would have anticipated that a Canaanite prostitute, from a wicked culture, that practised detestable acts in their idolatry (Deut 20:16-18), would be included in the great hall of faith in Hebrews 11?

The name of this former prostitute appears alongside Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, Moses, David, Samuel, Daniel and the prophets who risked their lives to obey God.

Not only that, God used Rahab in his plan to bring His sinless Son into this world. Matthew records her name in the genealogy of “Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham”:

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of King David (Matt 1:15-6).

While I was reading the book of Ruth one day, it suddenly occurred to me that Rahab was Boaz’s mother! Before the foundations of the earth were laid, God planned for this Canaanite prostitute to become Ruth’s mother-in-law, and the great-great grandmother of King David. In all likelihood, Rahab’s influence over her family had something to do with her son’s kindness to a young Moabite widow in Bethlehem, and the living faith that percolated through generations after her.

Although Rahab is a unique thread in salvation history, her story has much to teach us about God’s love for the outsider, the true nature of saving faith and the lengths to which God will go to adopt sinners into his family.

Please read Joshua 2:1-24.

Go, view the land, especially Jericho.

When Joshua sent the two Israelite spies to the city of Jericho, a harlot living in a house on the city wall hid them among the flax stalks on her roof. Then she helped the spies escape by lying to the authorities and sending them in the opposite direction.

In doing this, Rahab disobeyed the Canaanite king and demonstrated faith in the King of heaven and earth instead. Because she put her faith in the God of Israel, Rahab and her whole family were saved, while the city of Jericho was annihilated in judgment (Joshua 6.) The battle of Jericho took place in about 1400BC.

One can only imagine the depravity of the culture in which Rahab was raised to be a prostitute. We know that it was on account of the wickedness of the nations in Canaan that the Lord drove them out of the land (Deut 9:4-5). The Canaanites even sacrificed their children to the god Molech (Lev 18:21).

Most of us are familiar with Rahab’s story. As a child, my dad read it to me often. I remember staring at an illustration of the battle of Jericho, with walls crumbling and a red cord suspended from a perfectly preserved house in the wall of the city. In my childish imagination, I often wondered what the inhabitants of that house looked like. I pictured them as dusty, shell-shocked figures emerging from the ashes and rubble. I imagined them being led out by one of the spies into the safety of the Israelite camp.

I also wondered about the reasons why Rahab had become a prostitute and what had convinced her that Israel’s God could save her– a foreigner to His promises. Who told her stories about the Lord’s miraculous rescue of his people from bondage in Egypt? Who was Salmon, and how did his marriage to Rahab come about? The text doesn’t give us these details.

But somehow I guessed that Rahab’s red cord was connected to Jesus’ death and his power to rescue even the most unlikely of people. From a very young age, I knew that I needed that red cord, just as Rahab did.

Rahab’s story is a remarkable picture of God’s grace in the midst of divine judgment on a wicked culture. Like the lamb’s blood on the Israelite doors at the first Passover, Rahab’s scarlet cord is a symbol of what Jesus would do to rescue the world from sin’s slavery and death.

We aren’t told who the spies were, but Jewish tradition says that they were probably Caleb and the high priest Eliezer. The people of Israel were told to wait on the banks of the Jordan for three days while God worked out his purpose in saving Rahab’s household. I cannot help but think of the three days between Jesus’ death and his resurrection, surely the most momentous rescue mission in history!

Rahab’s profession.

“They entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.” The KJV calls Rahab a ‘harlot’ (Josh 2:1)

Embarrassed by Rahab’s profession as a harlot, some Bible scholars prefer to identify her more diplomatically as an ‘innkeeper’. However, the text does not depict Rahab as an Airbnb host, but clearly as a prostitute.

It’s true that she welcomed the spies, but she was not just being hospitable by hiding them among the flax stalks on her roof. She was risking her life and livelihood to protect these enemy soldiers from death. Since the writer clearly identifies Rahab as a harlot (even in Hebrews 11:31), it is surely not an irrelevant detail.

Rahab’s lie.

Another source of embarrassment is Rahab’s lie. Some Christians argue that God forgave her lie, just as He forgave her sexual sins. But a straightforward reading of the text says that Rahab lied blatantly to the authorities to protect the Israelite spies. In the New Testament, there is no hint of condemnation of her actions, only commendation.

She told the messengers of the king of Jericho that the men had already left and then sent them off on a wild goose chase (Josh 2:2-5). She said that she didn’t know where the spies were from, nor where they were going, whereas she knew exactly who they were and where they were hiding (Josh 2:4). She also knew that their God was about to destroy her city and that the spies were treasonous enemies.

To top it all, Rahab went back to the spies and actively helped them escape to the hills, to hide there for three days (Josh 2:8-21). She defied the authorities at every turn, at great risk to herself. But the Bible commends Rahab’s actions as acts of faith. In fact, James specifically mentions Rahab’s lie (in diverting the Canaanite pursuers) as an example of how true faith responds in active obedience to God. James writes:

“In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” (James 2:25).

Why does God condemn lying lips (Prov 12:22) and tell his people to be truthful like him (Eph 4:251 Tim 3:15), while sparing and even commending Rahab? (Josh 6:22-25) Should Rahab have rather told the truth and trusted God to deliver the spies himself?

I think Rahab’s actions, including her lies, were righteous acts for two important reasons:

  1. Firstly, the authorities had wicked intent.

The messengers of wicked Jericho clearly intended to kill the Israelite spies (Josh 2:174-6). Rahab’s lie effectively protected the spies from death and actively promoted the success of their mission. She is like the God-fearing midwives in Exodus 1, who disobeyed Pharoah’s command to kill all male newborns by blatantly lying to Pharoah.  God commended the midwives’ brave actions to protect innocent babies from Pharoah’s genocidal edict (Ex 1:19-21).

Sam Storms sums it up:

“A lie is an intentional falsehood that violates someone’s right to know the truth. But there are cases in which people forfeit their right to know the truth.”

Like the Hebrew midwives, Rahab’s lie was an act of righteous disobedience to a wicked king, born out of allegiance to the God of Israel (Josh 2:9-14).

2. Secondly, Jesus taught that the law’s intent is more important than its specific prohibitions.

For example, doing good on the Sabbath is more valuable than strictly obeying the command to refrain from activity. Jesus discussed a time when David violated the law by eating temple bread, but God did not condemn him, as he broke the prohibition in order to promote his life and the lives of his men as they fled from Saul (Matt 12:3-6).

The same principle applies to the more modern example of Corrie Ten Boom and her Christian family, who hid Jews during the years of the holocaust in the Netherlands. Knowing what the Nazis intended to do to Jews, it would have been wicked for Corrie to have told the truth about their hiding place if a Nazi soldier had knocked on her door. Telling the truth would have made her complicit in their murders. Like Rahab, Corrie lied to save innocent lives from wicked powers. She lied for God’s good cause and to his glory.

Rahab had many sins, but her lies to the authorities are seen as evidence of her faith and obedience to God.

Rahab’s profession of faith.

Rahab’s declaration of faith in Joshua 2:8-14 is a beautiful confession which teaches us about the simplicity of saving faith that is acceptable to God. She didn’t have perfect faith based on perfect knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures, but knew enough about who God was and who she was—a helpless sinner living in a wicked city.

Rahab trusted God entirely for her life and her family. She wanted to leave her sinful life and evil culture, and cling to the Lord and his people. She wanted to adopt a new identity and a new culture. When she confessed that only the Lord can “deliver our lives from death” (Josh 2:12-13), Rahab was literally throwing herself at the mercy of God (Josh 2:12).

This was the spies’ response:

“Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the Lord gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you” (Josh 2:14).

Isn’t this pledge an amazing preview of the gospel? Jesus pledged his life for sinners like us, even to death! He has dealt kindly and faithfully with us, even though we are faithless people. Rahab’s scarlet cord points us straight to Jesus.

Rahab’s scarlet cord.

The means of Rahab’s salvation is the most stunning detail of the story, set 1400 years before Christ was born (Josh 2:15-20). The scarlet cord was the signal to the Israelite army to spare everyone in Rahab’s house. God’s judgment passed them by, only because of her scarlet cord.

Even if Rahab had longed to join the Israelites and resolved to leave her life of sin and prostitution, without the red cord in her window she would have perished along with all the inhabitants of Jericho. The red cord was her only means of rescue.

Rahab simply obeyed, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window (Josh 1:21).

What an act of trust and obedience! Rahab could have questioned the spies’ promise or asked for another sign, but she didn’t. Submissively, she put her faith in God’s plan of salvation and He proved true to his pledge. The rescue mission was accomplished.

Strangely, if you read Joshua 6, you will see that the reconnaissance mission contributed nothing to the outcome of the battle. God had his own unique plan to destroy Jericho– a plan which involved a big walk and the blowing of trumpets.

But God had a bigger purpose for sending the spies to Jericho. His purpose was to rescue Rahab and her family from their wicked culture; to graft them into God’s people; to make a faithless harlot into the wife of a faithful Israelite called Salmon; to give Rahab a new profession, a new identity, a new people and a new name, to free her from bondage. What a rescue mission to save one unlikely Canaanite and her family!

And these were precisely the types of people that Jesus went out of his way to seek and save:

The Samaritan woman at the well, who had five consecutive husbands, but an empty heart. An unnamed prostitute, who wet Jesus’s feet with her tears and an alabaster flask of ointment (Luke 7:37-43). “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” But like Rahab, this harlot knew her debt of sin, and Jesus rewarded them both:

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:47-48).

You may know someone like Rahab who is ‘impossible’ to save. You may be like Rahab yourself—knowing just how sinful you are and longing for freedom from a life of slavery. Rahab reminds us that God’s hand is never too short, nor unwilling to save those in need of rescue–faithless men and women like you and me. Jesus is the scarlet cord that leads us back to our Father, time and time again.

Be Strong and Courageous

Series: Joshua

By Rosie Moore

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Joshua 1:9 is the footnote on the first page of my new journal. It sounds inspirational, but at the start line of 2023 I must confess that I don’t feel the least bit strong or courageous. Instead, I’m thinking, “Wait a minute, I’m not ready yet! There’s no way I’ve got the strength for what lies ahead. Actually, I’m still suffering from PTSD from the last two years!”

But it’s good to remember that Biblical courage and strength have nothing to do with our abilities, power or personality. Nor is courage a feeling that we must muster up. Again and again the book of Joshua reminds us that God is with his people and keeps his promises… so be strong and courageous in obeying him. Joshua’s obedience involved the long-awaited conquest of the Promised Land.

One of my favourite Narnia characters is Reepicheep, a tiny mouse who bravely wields a sword in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Despite his size, Aslan pays Reepicheep a high compliment: “My Country was made for Noble Hearts such as yours”. The Bible is full of verses about strength and courage in the face of the enemy, because the Lord is with us (1 Chronicles 28:20;  1 Cor 15:58;  Deut 31:6-8Eph 6:10Ps 27:114). Paul tells us explicitly, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith and be courageous; Be strong” (1 Cor 16:13).

Be strong and courageous.

On the cusp of the Promised Land, the Lord commanded Joshua to be strong and courageous even though it was occupied by ruthless enemies. Their great leader Moses was dead, and the Israelites were a weak and insignificant tribe in the ancient world (Ex 3:7-10). Joshua had every reason to be frightened and dismayed, which is probably why God instructed him three times to be strong and courageous.

Although Joshua’s Hebrew name means saviour, he knew that he was totally inadequate to lead Israel into the land of promise and rest. But victory was assured, not because Joshua was a great leader, or Israel was a great nation, but because God is a great God who says to his people, “I will be with you.” This promise was enough for Joshua, and it is surely enough for us today if our Saviour, Jesus Christ, goes before us.

In today’s devotion we’ll explore God’s repeated command to Joshua to be strong and courageous in leading the people to conquer Canaan:

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

(Josh 1:1-9).

God-centred courage.

Where does courage and strength come from?

The self-help gurus say, “Build your self-esteem, detox from self-limiting beliefs and break free from anybody who holds you back. Harness the power within!” We are told to recite mantras to defeat our fears and build self-confidence, “I am strong. I am bold. Live the dream!”

But it comes as no surprise that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. The reality is that we are no greater, stronger, bolder or braver than we were last year, and no amount of self-confidence or inner strength can defeat unemployment, failure, sickness, evil or death. Live long enough and you realise that your dream can quickly become a nightmare and there’s no basis for courage and strength if you rely on yourself.

God told Joshua to be strong and courageous because He served a faithful, promise-keeping God. The Lord had made extraordinary promises to Moses and Joshua, including a massive region of land occupied by powerful kings and pagan nations (Josh 1:4-5). Joshua knew that God had kept his promises to Moses while the Israelites were still helpless slaves and to Abraham when he was a childless nomad. He had plenty of evidence that God could be trusted.

We think of Joshua as a brilliant military leader and strong spiritual influence over Israel, which he was. But the key to his success was not his military training or leadership abilities. It was his radical obedience to God that led the Israelites to prosper, not his abilities or self-confidence (Josh 1:7-8).

Joshua was ready to listen and move quickly when God instructed him. He was diligent in carrying out God’s commands and being led by Him. His strength to do God’s work came from trusting God’s promises and obeying his word without compromise. Of the twelve spies who were sent into Canaan many years before, only Joshua and Caleb had shown complete confidence that God would help them conquer the land.

Picture Joshua standing on the banks of the Jordon River with these promised descendants of Abraham. They were free and numbered more than two million. There were women, children and little babies among them who were no match against the warriors of Canaan. I can imagine that Joshua felt fearful, but he trusted God for the future generation on the basis of what he knew about God in the past.

We see this again in chapter 23. As an old man Joshua looked back at what God had done for the Israelites, showing the people that their faith in God had been well placed. He had been true to every one of his promises.

 “One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.” (Josh 23:10-11).

Like us, Joshua didn’t feel strong or brave as he stood at the banks of the Jordan river. But the biblical command to be strong and courageous has nothing to do with self-confidence or feelings. It comes only from trusting the Lord and allowing his word to guide our daily living.

Risky Courage.

What strikes me from the book of Joshua is that courage always involves danger and risk. C.S Lewis wrote:

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”

C.S Lewis was making the point that it requires courage to do what is right when it’s dangerous and disadvantageous to us.  To pursue Christ-like character in an environment where it’s expedient doesn’t require courage at all. But it takes a lot of courage to not be consumed by suffering; to make peace; to wage war against an addiction or pet sin; to be firm in our beliefs; to stand firm in the truth when it costs us dearly.

As we were reading this text together as a family, my 85-year old father shared that the first chapter of Joshua is very precious to him and my mom, because when they first became Christians they were given a costly test of courage. As a new convert, my dad realized that he couldn’t be part of tender collusions being practised by his partners in their large construction company. But he knew that if he spoke up, he would be met with intense hostility and anger, as these deals were very lucrative.

As a result of obeying God, my dad (then a father of four young children), lost his job, savings and everything he owned, even the house we lived in. He was forced to sign a restraint of trade agreement and took his family to live in a caravan for six years, during which time he was unable to practice as an Engineer.

But it was this command to be strong and courageous, along with God’s promises to Joshua, that challenged my mom and dad to make their costly decision. They could have kept their heads below the parapet and kept silent, but my parents knew that God was calling them to be obedient to him in their work. They knew that God could be trusted no matter what.

As an old man, my father looks back at God’s faithfulness during that difficult period and the  fifty years since, and he’s still convinced that his trust and obedience were warranted. Moreover, his children and grandchildren have seen firsthand that courage is not a feeling or a mood, but a settled commitment to trust God and obey his commandments, regardless of the cost.

The book of Joshua shows us that courage goes hand-in-hand with action and that God will guide and provide for us in every hard decision and struggle we face. To love God means more than being enthusiastic about him. We must apply his instructions to every corner of our lives.

Persevering courage.

It’s too easy to put people like Joshua on a pedestal, thinking that we can never be heroic and courageous like him. I mean, how many of us have been commissioned to take God’s people into the land of milk and honey? Surely we are not all born to be strong, courageous heroes of the faith!

But the Bible won’t let us off the hook that easily. It seems that God chooses the weakest people to make the point that it isn’t our temperament or abilities that give us courage. Fear cripples us, but believers who are fueled by the love of God will find courage and strength to do whatever is required of them in their own slither of history. You can be courageous.

All believers are commanded to have courage in the ordinary life that God has given us, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim 1:7). Christ is the only basis for courage and strength in whatever work God has given us to do.

Actually, as Christians we have even stronger evidence of God’s faithfulness than Joshua had:

  • We can look back to God’s promise-keeping victory at Calvary.
  • We can look forward to the ultimate Promised Land, the new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13).
  • We can keep our eyes on Jesus, who sweated blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, yet was strong and courageous in dying on the cross.
  • We can be assured by Christ’s many promises to fight for us:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

I’m hoping that our devotions in Joshua will be encourage some weary Christian soldiers today.


Lord, we pray that the eyes of our hearts ]may be enlightened, so that we will know the hope of Christ’s calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the boundless greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.

Lord, we don’t know all the challenges that await us, but help us draw on the great resources you have made available to us. Give us courage and strength to live for your glory today. Help us to take the Bible seriously, so that we love, study, speak, remember and obey your word, even if it’s risky. Thank you for encouraging us today.